I was sad to hear about Stephen R. Covey’s tragic accident and subsequent death. We never know when our time is up. Stephen Covey touched so many people in his life time and his work will continue to influence people in the future. I never met Stephen Covey but I can imagine what he must have been like, especially after reading a beautiful blog post in the Harvard Business Review by Greg McKeown: “Stephen R. Covey Taught Me Not to Be Like Him.” I like how the author describes Stephen Covey as living his life with intent. We should all strive to do so.
Stephen Covey, in his book “First Things First,” wrote that while wandering through a university library he came across a book with the following powerful idea:
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
He notes that we, as human beings, are the only living creatures in this world that can “think” before we act.
We can CHOOSE how we are going to respond.
We can choose to speak, act and behave in a way that creates positive and memorable WOW experiences for ourselves and for others.
I share this concept in my interpersonal communications and stress management workshops. I ask participants to resist the urge to react and try using the POWER PAUSE by counting to three between the stimulus and response, to ensure a response that builds relationships, reduces stress levels, and creates a positive experience for everyone. This is a simple, yet powerful concept, to build beautiful relationships at work and at home.
Over the next few blog posts, I’ll share a few of my favourite learning moments from Stephen Covey. What is your favourite learning moment from Stephen Covey? Please share your thoughts.
Related posts: What Stephen Covey taught me – The Circle of Influence
Sometimes in the world of blogging it’s hard to know if anyone is ”listening,” so I was thrilled when I received a request to publish my T.A.L.K. it out to improve performance blog post in the May 2012 issue of the HR REPUBLIC magazine.
The T.A.L.K. method is a great way to conduct a coaching meeting to lead an individual to a solution rather than lecturing and giving advice. It works beautifully. Try it and let me know how you make out.
Click here to read TALK it out to improve performance_HR Republic_May 2012 (PDF), to learn more about the T.A.L.K. method.
The Tetris effect (also known as Tetris Syndrome) occurs when people devote sufficient time and attention to an activity that it begins to overshadow their thoughts, mental images, and dreams. It is named after the video game Tetris. (Wikipedia)
Shawn Achor in my favourite book, The Happiness Advantage, notes that the Tetris effect, or pattern of thought, can often be negative. We all know of people who seem to find something to complain about no matter what. Life is a series of complaints and negativity.
But what happens when we focus on only the negative?
It is that same thing that happens when you buy a new car. All of a sudden you are noticing the same make and model all over the place when you didn’t notice it before. When you focus on the negative you start to notice and seek out only the negative and as Shawn Achor states, “even paradise can become hell.”
What happens when people don’t see the positive? They are often not nice to be around. They become what I call, the “energy vampires,” sucking the happiness out of others.
Unfortunately the negative Tretris effect can happen in the workplace when managers focus on only the negative things about an employee even when that employee has many positives. When managers constantly scan for the negative at work “it undercuts our creativity, raises our stress levels, and lowers our motivation AND our ability to accomplish goals.” (Shawn Achor) In other words, it is not a very happy, healthy, or productive workplace.
Can this kind of negative thinking be changed? I hope it can. It all starts with self-awareness. Try this exercise:
Day one: Make note of every negative comment or thought you have in a day. Assess how you feel at the end of the day.
Date two: Every time you have a negative thought, make note of it, but reframe it from a negative to a positive. Have an internal dialogue, “Come on, that person can’t be that bad. Last week they …..” Measure your happiness level by the end of the day.
After a few days of noticing and reframing your thoughts, your happiness level should increase. And it is worthwhile to strive to make a change because research shows that negative folks are more susceptible to depression, stress, poor physical health and even substance abuse.
So what can you do if your whole organization is infected with the Negative Tetris effect? Well that is a topic for another blog post!
Try the exercise I suggested above, and let me know how you make out.
Photo credit: Flickr: Sebástian Freire